==============================  CFJ 1218  ==============================

    The insertion of a blank line in a Rule is a Rule change[.]


Caller:                                 Palnatoke

Judge:                                  t
Judgement:                              FALSE



Called by Palnatoke:                    18 May 2000 18:08:15 GMT
Assigned to t:                          18 May 2000 23:44:43 GMT
Judged FALSE by t:                      24 May 2000 22:13:47 GMT


Judge t's Arguments:

I find this statement to be FALSE, for the reasons I give below.

To determine the truth value of this statement we need to consider what
kinds of changes to a Proposal are Rule Changes and what kind of a
standing whitespace has within Rules' texts. Rule 105 defines four types
of Rule Changes, two of which need be considered here:

      * The amendment of the text of an existing Rule; or
      * Any change to a substantive property of a Rule other than
        its text.

The question about the essence of whitespace is answered partly in Rule
1339, which states that variations in whitespace or capitalization in
quotation of text in an existing Rule does not create irregularities or
ambiguities. This Rule appears, then, to confirm the status of whitespace
as a part of a Rule's text. The Rule, however, only applies in the case of
a quotation of a Rule's text to be removed or replaced, and in that case
whitespace is explicitly defined to be inconsequential. That would support
a position that whitespace is not a substantive property of a Rule, but
this is possible only if it is not an integral part of the Rule's text.

The foundation on which the dreams of power of whitespace rests crumbles
as we read Rule 107, which defines valid media for Rule Changes. According
to the Rule, which takes precedence over 1339, print and electronic media
have an equal standing. It is obvious that print and electronic media have
different types of whitespace. In a handwritten page, especially when the
page has been written by this judge, it is not always clear whether a
certain area with no text is a blank line. Similarly, the idea of multiple
blank lines may not be relevant to such a document.

The question is, then, whether the alterations of whitespace in different
representations of a Rule are in any way relevant. This may be an
important question if a handwritten Proposal is ever submitted. Even
though Rule 1339 only applies in certain circumstances, it is only time
this matter is discussed in the Rules. Since accurate depiction of
whitespace is not required in one case where it might be, and the
conversion of documents from print to electronic versions and vice versa
poses difficulties if small variations in the whitespace of the text can
be important, we find that it is in the best interests of the game, as
well as supported by a longtime game custom, that Rule 1339 is taken as a
guideline in all pertinent game actions.

Another question is whether reformatting a Proposal is a Rule Change. This
statement may very well be true, but it is a completely different thing
than the statement of this cfj. Blank lines may be used in formatting
electronic plain text version of a Rule. Another version of the Rule may
use some other method to distinguish paragraphs from each other, such as
<p> tags in html.

On a final note, it is the Judge's humble opinion that Agora would benefit
greatly if we would have some kinds of standards for Rule text formatting.
Maybe an Agoran Rules DTD would be in order. Such a thing would remove
many possibilities of ambiguities within Proposals.


Judge t's Evidence:

Rule 1339/6 (Power=3)
Precision in Rule Changes

      Exact precision is required in the specification of Rule
      Changes; any ambiguity or irregularity in the specification of a
      Rule Change causes it to be void and without effect.

      Variations in whitespace or capitalization in the quotation of
      text in an existing Rule to be removed or replaced does not
      create an irregularity or ambiguity, for the purpose of this
      Rule.  Any other variation, however, does.

Rule 107/1 (Power=3)
Rule Changes Must Be Written Down

      Any proposed Rule Change must be written down (or otherwise
      communicated in valid media) before it is voted on. If adopted,
      it must guide play in the form in which it was voted on.  For
      the purposes of this rule, print and electronic media, including
      mailing lists, are valid media.